Read Dr Maloney's Final Prizegiving Address

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This year, given the circumstances I want to talk about the five things I love about Bede’s.

I hope that these five themes will encapsulate what makes our school so special.

 

First, I love what we stand for.

First and foremost, Bede’s stands for a holistic education.

In English there are two different Latin roots to the English word ‘education’. The first root is educare (with an ‘a’) which means to train or to mould. The second, educere (with an ‘e’), means to lead out.

Each of the two meanings are actually very different, yet they are both represented in the word education. Educare (with an ‘a’) implies using education to mean the preservation and passing down of knowledge – this is perhaps what might have traditionally been seen as the shaping of young people in the image of an imposed ‘ideal’.

On the other hand, the educere (with an ‘e’) root pictures education as preparing a new generation for a world they have to encounter on their own terms. It implies readying young people to create solutions to problems yet unknown, to traverse a complex world with thoughtfulness, depth of insight, and proper self-confidence.

Whereas educare calls for memorisation-by-rote and conformity; educere requires young people to question, think, experiment and create.

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There is no doubt that education requires schools to fulfil both functions, however, at Bede’s we place the primacy of educere at the heart of our pupils’ education. We want our pupils to be creative, to experiment, to think, to question, to experiment, to extend themselves. Academic results matter, yes; however, the wider aspects of education are equally important in producing rounded, confident human-beings.

When I was putting this section of my speech together, I wanted to create a sense for you of the wider opportunities our pupils have at Bede’s. We have a zoo, with its own zoological society, we make jewellery, robots, and restore classic cars. Our students go rock-climbing, they sail, ski, shoot, and play a myriad of sports. Bedians can make films, animate, cook. They can illustrate, write plays, debate and speak Mandarin.

They run their own drama companies, sing, play musical instruments and perform.

They have set up their own societies, run their own school councils and arrange referenda. They value the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s Scheme, teach lessons in local primary schools, work with charities and host guests from the community in the School.

I promised you that I would illustrate my themes using pupils. To do so, I thought it might be useful to canvas some staff and seek their view as to who amongst the pupil body they think best embodies Bede’s values. What was extraordinary was the huge number of names they gave to me of people who ‘live’ the Bede’s ethos.

People like Josh Simonassi, a delightful human being in the Upper Sixth, a school prefect and an outstanding academic, who can’t do enough to help. Josh has written websites for three academic departments; he debates, he enters quizzes, enters fiction-writing competitions, paddle-boards. For fun, Josh completed Japanese GCSE and always supports his housemates with their academic work. He is also the first Mexican to represent Bede’s in rugby sevens.

Talisker

Student Hero and Head Girl for 2016-17 Talisker Cornford.

Or Harry Wooten, a committed academic, whom plays sport at the highest level across three terms. Talisker Cornford, who was in Cabaret, Chamber Choir, Bede’s Fest, netball and hockey teams, and, at the behest of the Politics and Economics Society argued valiantly for ‘Brexit’ in our EU Debate. She will also be the next Head of School.

Lucy Watts, new to Bede’s this year, who is into everything musical, yet finds the time to ‘knit and natter’ with our local community in the Village Shop. Ashley Meffen, a grade eight violinist, who plays for the school 2nd XI football, drums and learns Mandarin. Charlotte Webb, a first year who does so much she seems to have been here for years. Daisy Bean and Issy Sayer likewise. Marcus Hendry who plays rugby sevens, is one of the Legat male dancers (at least up to a point), and a core member of the Chaplain’s Reflection and Action Committee. Alannah Akinwunmi plays the flute, sings, works tremendously hard in the classroom, and is our star netball shooter.

Tilly Holker a cricketer who can also perform brilliantly in Cabaret. Olivia Muston, a star of stage who plays cricket, rounders, hockey and netball and is a fantastic artist.

And some Bedians who just make the School a better place whilst contributing to those activities and opportunities offered at Bede’s. Gigi Cheung, Alicia Von Brandenstein, Mitchell Dennis, Joe Robson, Bertie Bextor, Ros Manning, Rosie Canby, Julia Meyer, Hope Ball, Alex Targett, Alice Goodchild, Ariana Dowse, Ella Bartram, Ruby Moody, Tom McGovern, Sam Leonard, Gus Bartlett, Theo Silk, Beth Giddings, Lily Potter, Tommy Trenaman.

Tommy

Fellow Student Hero Tommy Trenaman.

Such lists are never exhaustive, however, my point is that our pupils live our values.

Every individual is valued. Every individual has the chance to participate. But the key is to use their opportunities as a springboard. And I have no doubt that those here today in the junior years, who don’t yet give as much as they will, will be inspired not by our philosophy in an abstract sense, but by those amongst their peer groups who live Bede’s values.

 

Second, I love our creativity.

I am not a creative person. As the son of a musician, and the eldest of four children, I failed to achieve much more than making unpleasant noises with a trumpet. Worse for my father, his musical talent managed to bypass the entire generation. Similarly, when I try to draw, nothing ever quite works. Simply, I’m just not very good. And my family will tell you what a mess my home films are…

And so the best thing about my job is I get to live the creative life vicariously. I am able, through the talents of our pupils, coupled with the abilities of our teachers who ‘draw them out’, to experience the richness of creativity.

Our film-makers make the most remarkable films. You’ve already seen Jessica Houston’s beautiful meditation on time. Joe Robson’s extended film, which reflected on radical Islam, shot over several nights in his car, and starring Harvey Cole, showed originality and real quality.

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Alex Mirzoeff-Campbell is one of the very best young filmmakers I have seen – his whisky advert was a highlight of Bede’s Oscar Night. His sense of creativity and stylisation is precocious and exceptional. Ivan Friedman’s film on mental illness, made with Harry Wilson and Will Morgan won a prize at the Eastbourne Film Festival. Ukrainian Olga Shayshatka’s film about displaced people in her home country was moving and poignant.

I was struck by not only our pupils’ filmic talent but the diversity of genre and subject matter amongst our film-makers. Their creativity was clear to see.

I mention the brilliance of our art and photography every year. What Mr Turner and his team do is to educate artists. Theirs is a training, aiming way beyond exam board specifications, that seeks to prepare young people to discipline their creativity, to develop deep-rooted techniques and, yes, they still get exceptional exam results.

However those results are never their primary aim. In other words, the success of Bede’s art comes down to the fact that we have talented pupils, of course we do, but we also have staff who prize art, and prize being an artist more highly than anything else.

As ever, the pupils’ artworks amaze. Moritz Brommekamp’s attention to detail and sheer hard-work are a lesson to us all in industriousness. Jake Vine’s graphics work has an élan and left-fieldedness that makes his pieces truly captivating. Charlotte Mitchell, who has won this year’s prestigious Graham Prize commission, is a portrait painter of panache and sparkle unusual in one so young. Daniel Martirossian is similarly blessed with portraiture talent.

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Those of you who visited the DT exhibition could not have failed to be impressed by Victoria Marushchak’s ambitious drinks cabinet and dressing table. The quality of finish by GCSE student Ed Jones on his desk chair was of a professional standard; his is truly exceptional work. GCSE pupils Jack Harwood and Matt Hunt both produced beautifully finished table lamps. Max Brunton’s tennis umpire chair was a work of quirky originality and his brother Charlie’s workshop bench was also of the highest standard of finish. Leo Maher’s desk was original and showed a design flair unusual at this stage of his career, whilst Jim Kwok’s coffee table was a creative and vividly distinctive piece of work.

Bede’s music continues to impress. Cabaret is, as ever, our ‘blue-chip’ event in the first term. The Orchestra, Jazz band and our singers were wonderfully entertaining and the vivacity of our Legat Dancers brought the event to life. Talisker Cornford singing Skyfall and Max Mason Where is Love were particular highlights. Connell and Cuxson, a duo we will miss but surely hear more of, entertained us with their jazz improvisations.

My personal highlight was our Head of School Bertie Cook singing Give Me Love whilst Katy Eedle and Phoenix Tanner danced a waltz. I’m not sure I have ever seen anything more beautiful in my seven years at Bede’s. There were many who, at the sheer intensity of what we had seen, impulsively burst into tears. Their work was testament to how art can move us to our very soul.

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Other musical highlights in the year included our younger pupils taking their first steps. Zayn Malik’s classical guitar, Charlotte Webb’s voice, Echo Abraham singing solo for the first time, Ton Harrison’s saxophone, Max Mason’s supreme confidence and natural stage-presence; all were a pleasure to see. Older musicians, Imogen Lock, Oliver Hutchinson, Ruby Moody, Rosa Marks, Archie Taylor continue to delight us all.

We say goodbye to a number of very capable musicians and wish them well. Hannah Robert’s exceptional vocal qualities will be missed. Szofia Lindsay-MacDougall, the most soothing harpist, leaves us to study Music for Media at Ravensbourne. The irrepressible Jonathan Connell and James Cuxson will leave a very big hole in Bede’s musical community. Julia Meyer’s expert flute has been delightful to listen to, as has Ben Stannard’s piano playing and Grace Longden’s singing. We wish them all well.

But we also have creativity in our curriculum. I must pay testament to Mr Tuson and his team who have worked so hard to ensure our pupils enjoy courses that play to their interests. For example, our new First Year curriculum allows Bedians to make films. Pupils take modules in fine art, print-making and graphics. They all dance. The study design technology. They take courses in sculpture, ceramics and animation. They have a ‘crash course’ in graphic design, illustration and photography. Our school values creativity and it remains at the heart of our pupils’ school experience.

And of course our staff are creative. I give you three examples. Mr Waring, who fashions the most extraordinary stage sets, has starred in his own show, Golem, which he wrote, directed and performed. If you have a chance to see it, be sure to do so, it is a tour de force. Mr Turner, our Head of Art, has a picture exhibited at this year’s Royal Academy of Art’s summer exhibition. It has sold already (for £1200 as you ask).

His website JFKTurner.com has more if you’re interested. Mr Hammond’s ceramic work is much sought-after and he is – very – regularly commissioned.

It has been inspiring to be surrounded by such creative talent, both on the teaching staff and the pupil body. Our creativity is one of the best things about Bede’s and I am delighted that our pupils have not found, as the School has improved academically, that our creative life has diminished. If anything, with the advent of our BTEC courses in Creative Media for example, creativity has been extended. But most happily, the creative life is something all Bede’s pupils get to experience as soon as they join the School.

 

Third, I love the fact that we take children out of their comfort zones.

Any good school should aim to take children out their comfort zones frequently and unapologetically. After all, how do we know what we are truly capable of if we are not stretched?

Lessons should not be passive or comfortable, instead, young people need to be challenged to think. Learning should be difficult. Gaining mastery of concepts and skills should not feel easy. It is only through the adrenalin rush of stimulation and genuine challenge that real learning, which is as much about ourselves and our capacities as anything else, takes place.

I want to choose just one example from this academic year to illustrate this point.

Several years ago, Ms Woollett came to me with an idea she and several others had concocted. What about, she said, hiring an 800-seater professional theatre for three nights; putting on four shows; staging the most difficult musical there is to stage; using only our own pupils as performers; getting pupils to be stage managers; performing the music ourselves; and, just for good measure, creating the stage set here in school as an activity and then taking the whole set in a lorry to Eastbourne?

And so, with a deep breath, and the vision of Mrs Lewis, the Director of Drama, we went for it. Those who don’t know Bede’s were sure it couldn’t work; after all, how could school children successfully put on a show that professionals find notoriously difficult?

Well, guess what, they did. Not only did it happen, but it was an extraordinary experience for our pupils. Matthew Jebb, with the assistance of Ros Manning, manged the stage. Jacob Liebenberg, in the Lower Fifth, operated the lighting.

Matthew Maloney brought the wonderful puppets to life (with a little help from Mr Potter and Mr McDonnell) and Ambra Fuller created the wolf costume. And what a wolf it was, for those of you who know Jonathan Connell, his extravagance and unthrottled performance was a far cry from the laid-back ‘jazz-man’ we all know so well.

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But what a cast! To name them all now would be impossible, however, to not mention Hannah Roberts, arguably the most talented actor amongst a cohort of brilliant actors, who played the witch would be remiss. The peerless Harvey Cole, himself already a film actor with a burgeoning career, was a captivating Prince Charming. Emily Crow, ordinarily known to us as a Legat dancer, gave a tour de force as the Stepmother. Joe Robson, charismatic and amusing as ever, was a terrific Baker to Alice Potter’s Baker’s Wife.

These ‘older’ Upper Sixth actors were brilliantly supported by Bede’s younger talent.

Theo Morse was a wonderful narrator, Ruby Moody, a terrifyingly ugly Stepmother.

The stewards, Earl Cave to Louis Muston’s Prince and Flynn Matthews to Harvey’s Charming, pretty much stole the show. Imogen Lock’s Rapunzel was captivating. Tiny first year Echo Abraham belied her tender years playing an unusually violent Grandmother. The ‘Jacks’, Tom McGovern and Max Mason were both outstanding.

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Although I can’t mention everyone, the cast, as large as it was, were stunning; utterly superb. And you don’t have to take my word for it. The first and last paragraphs of the review by Louise Schweitzer, published in The Argus, reads as follows:

The programme for Into The Woods at the Devonshire Park Theatre was lavishly illustrated with photographs of the cast. But surely, there was a mistake: who were all these children wearing striped ties and school uniforms?

By some sleight of hand, limitless imagination and sheer acting skill, the children became the players in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, a Broadway smash hit from 1986 and a Disney film 20 years later. Perhaps Sondheim never imagined children could tackle the long, complex drama and perhaps most could not, but Bede’s students made a miracle happen. They made a play come to life.

The young stars supported by a full orchestra, danced, sang and acted their hearts out, backed by dramatic scenery, clever costumes and terrifying sound effects. DT students created a cow that milked, birds that sang and a wolf that ate. Coconuts galloped and hair tumbled from castles as the theatre hummed with the creative vitality of very youthful actors and the excitement of new talent inhabiting old stories. Grown-ups - who needs them?

Five stars

Even though Into the Woods was a sell-out and a spectacular success, I know not all of you will have had a chance to see the show. Given that this will be the last chance we will have to see Alice Potter on stage, it seems an opportune moment to reprise just a little of Into the Woods for you now.

Alice is an extraordinary person. She is one of my school prefects, Head of Charleston House (and brilliantly so), a drama scholar and hugely capable academically.

Presently, she has the choice between studying performing arts at Bird College or Urdang, or taking up a place at Exeter to study Clinical Psychology. She will decide her pathway after her results. If only all of us had such choice…

Anyhow, Alice will be imagining the set around her this morning. Remember that the performance took place at a professional theatre, the Devonshire in Eastbourne, with the most incredible stage set created by our own genius, Mr Waring. This morning, Alice will have to ‘make-believe’ that set all that on her own.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Alice Potter singing Moments in the Wood from Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

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There is no doubt that Into the Woods took us all out of our comfort zones.

I should also pay testament to our youngest crop of actors. We may be losing a most talented group of Upper Sixth thespians this year, however, some fabulous talents are ready to take their place. Lord of The Flies, performed last week, was stunning. Our younger stars of the future were exceptional. The insidious nastiness of Tom McGovern’s Jack; Grace Stannard’s naïve, morally sound, yet powerless, Rachel; Izzy Sayer’s poignant portrayal of Piggy; Freddie Tuson’s leering menace as Roger, are just some examples of the talent. How lucky Bede’s will be to have such strong dramatists in years to come. I can see them taking you out your comfort zones with relish and no little skill.

 

Fourth, I love the commitment of our pupils.

One thing I have been exceptionally proud of these last seven years is our pupils’ increasingly impressive achievements academically. In 2009, our A level, Pre-U and BTEC results languished a long way behind the other independent schools in the region. Now they are better than all those schools (bar perhaps one in Brighton).

Why is this? Well it hasn't been by wanting to change our pupils and who they are.

Nor have we comprised Bede’s core educational philosophy. Instead our success is about two things.

First, we teachers needed to come out of our comfort zones. It was imperative that we engaged profoundly with our ways of teaching so that we could be sure we were stimulating, enthusing and challenging our pupils. Moreover, we needed to aspire on behalf of our pupils and ensure our commitment to high standards drew the best from our pupils.

Secondly, our pupils themselves needed to aim higher. They needed to have the confidence to seek excellence. They needed to take risks with learning. They needed to feel the discomfort of seeking real achievement. As we all know, the best things in life never come easily. Most importantly, they needed to believe in themselves.

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As many of you know, Bede’s achieved 80% A*-B last summer. I am very proud of that success by last year’s Upper Sixth. Similarly, our GCSE results were the best the School has ever had. However, behind those ‘group’ statistics lie some wonderful individual performances.

Well done to Ana Entwisle who achieved ten A* and A grades; Jay Adebisi, Daniel Belo Goncalves, Mitchell Dennis, Calum Harris, and Jack Kirk who achieved nine A* and A grades. Likewise, a well done to Joe Billings, Harry Cannon, Talisker Cornford, Eliza Hackett, John Moran and Alina Wiltshire who each achieved eight A* and A grades.

Then there are those who have achieved great things and exceeded their own expectations through sheer hard work. Anthony Davidson, Rebekah Morris, Lillie Skerman and Phoebe Picken all spring to mind in this respect. They should be proud of the way in which they take on challenge and deliver so much.

I often say to pupils that you tend to get out of life what you put in. Probably, in the School, there is no greater exemplification of that principle than in the Legat School of Dance. This has been an unusual year for Legat as the reign of the wonderful Mrs Holland ended and the new era of Mr Lee Smikle began in April.

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For the first time, I wasn’t able to be at the Legat Choreographic Competition, however, I know I missed a treat. Phoenix Tanner won the competition with his film Built to Consume which featured Cydney Watson, Amira Davidson, Hannah Chen and Phoebe Marsh. Hannah Chen’s piece The Thin Veil of Life After Loss won the much-coveted ‘audience choice’ award. The Junior Award was won for Seasons which was danced by first years Peggy Alderson Popovic, Clara Barrachina Mateo, Claudia Goyanes and Henry Watts.

Mr Smikle’s first full Legat show, Spirit, was outstanding. The grace, athleticism and creativity of our dancers was, as ever, awe-inspiring. Their commitment to reach this level is of the highest order and I am always struck by how our dancers can apply themselves in every aspect of their lives. It is probably no surprise, given how much they put into their dancing development, that their academic value-added and achievement is also amongst the highest in the School. Legat dancers are unimpeachably committed to everything they do.

Those five dancers leaving us this year to pursue a career in dance have practised and pushed themselves physically and mentally for twenty-five hours a week during their time at the School. That is commitment. And so we say goodbye to Katy Eedle, Emily Crow – both of whom I have had the pleasure of teaching Philosophy and Theology this year – Jody Laughton-Zimmerman, Phoenix Tanner and Eleanor Sofflet. Each of our five ‘graduates’ are heading to the most prestigious dance schools in the country. Katy and Emily will heading to Bird College of Performing Arts, as will Jody; whilst both Phoenix and Eleanor will both be going to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Contemporary Dance. I should add that each of this talented quintet received offers from many other dance schools before selecting their eventual destinations.

There is no doubt that sport takes considerable commitment. I am always impressed by those footballers who arrive at school each Saturday morning, come rain or shine, to play for the ‘B’ team or the 4th XI. That commitment to each other, and to the School, is enormously valued. It might appear that the 1st XIs matter most because they receive the publicity, however, there is no doubt in my mind that the lifeblood of our sporting commitment lies in those other sides. Participation, comradeship, commitment: those values matter more than any other.

This year, our new Director of Hockey, Mr Johnson, has effected a transformation.

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The fact that 25% more girls play hockey and represent the School in fixtures tells us how popular the sport has become. Yes, there have been wonderful individual successes, such as Beth Giddings making the England U18 training group or first year Ella Bartram bursting onto the scene in fine style. Similarly, Tilly Johnson, Natasha Bingle-Williams, Hope Ball, Amelia Doxey, Alistair Orr, Tom Gordon and Guillaume Green have all represented the county. Indeed, Lucas Green, Harry Wooten and Sam Leonard have all represented the South-East region. However, the fact that Mr Johnson, ably existed by his performance alter-ego Robbie Williams, has put the fun back into hockey, is the success that matters most.

We have also seen a real growth in participation in other sporting areas. Bede’s footballers played 173 fixtures this year and put fourteen different school teams across the season. Our under-14s and under-15s both won the Ibstock six-a-side competitions, whilst seniors, David Carruthers, Knory Scott, Tommy Trenaman and Ryan Welch represented their respective age-group ISFA sides. Female footballers Leilani Nesbitt and Laila Emerson both play for professional clubs, with Grace Stableford in the county team.

Badminton, basketball, volleyball and rounders have enjoyed a surge in popularity with many more fixtures taking place in those sports. Squash, captained by Glen Tailford, has seen many more juniors take up the sport. Our new Rugby Sevens programme has proven very popular, with the first team winning the London Irish Shield.

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Netball is experiencing an up-turn, both Poppy Picken and Olivia Kounis selected to play for Sussex only last week. Our boys and girls tennis teams have both qualified for the under-19 national competition in July.

Our ladies cricket programme goes from strength-to-strength. The girls under-15 team have become both County Champions and Lady Taverners indoor regional finalists. It was wonderful to see Ellie Robinson, Ariana Dowse, Daisy Bean, Leilani Nesbitt and Polly McCarthy all picked for the County. Delray Rawlins, our 1st XI captain, took 6-67 in a Sussex 2nd XI fixture.

Sport takes serious commitment. I am always impressed by those pupils who turn out week after week for their teams, be it the 5th XI, under-14 C team or the firsts. Being part of something is what is to be admired just as much as those elite athletes, like Kai Maxted, currently ranked number six in Great Britain under-16 tennis, or Elise Van Heuvelen who continues to move up the senior rankings, or Felicity Collins, who is a member of the Great Britain Under 18 eventing team.

In the end, it is commitment that brings success and, equally, enjoyment from sport.

I am delighted that Bede’s has both values in abundance.

I spoke at length last year about the charitable work being undertaken in our houses.

To my mind, developing a sense of social commitment is an essential part of education. Thus, to see, under the leadership of the Revd. Buckler, that work continuing to embed itself in our community this year gives me tremendous heart. Each of our houses has its own house charity and the pupils are responsible for organising fund-raising events throughout the School year. This academic year, when we total the amounts raised by the house appeals and other specific fund-raising schemes, Bede’s pupils, through their commitment to others coupled with their sense of social responsibility, have raised £34,605.55.

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Naturally, there have been individuals who have shown their own exceptional commitment to charity. Perhaps highest profile was Amira Davidson who entered our homes each evening on BBC1 throughout the Autumn. She braved hills, violent storms, exhaustion, and injury to pedal 470 miles from Land’s End to the East End.

Amira, a Legat dancer, was the only rider able to brave Cheddar Gorge. She and her fellow riders raised £7.9 million for Children in Need.

Others undertook obstacle courses, Deis boys Chris Bowe, Jacob Taplin, Oliver Godchild and Jake Davidson completing the ‘nuts’ challenge – a 7.5km muddy obstacle course. Deis Head of House Chris didn’t put a hair out of place. Knights and Stud took over the Bluebell work for a day to support the ABC fund. Archie Taylor cycled the South Downs Way for Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Mr (Camberlot) Jones swam 10 kilometres of the Rover Dart in September on behalf of Camberlot’s Rocking Horse Children’s Charity. Mr Hickman – finally – shaved off his hipster beard for Dorms charity Demelza. And every member of Crossways House abseiled 300ft from the top of the Blind Veterans UK Building in Rottingdean.

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Equally, our ‘outreach’ work in the community is hugely important. The Knit and Natter group who meet local people in the Village Shop. The community links chess project in Heathfield. Those Bede’s pupils who teach mandarin, music, drama, sport and science lessons at Park Mead Primary School.

Bede’s commitment to charitable work is time-consuming and demanding, yet it shows our pupils recognise their privileges are not to be taken for granted. Bedians give back and do so without equivocation and with great heart. And on that note of giving, I would like to draw your attention to the Development Brochures you will have found on your chairs this morning.

We launched the Bede’s Development Foundation earlier this term with the intention of creating a legacy. The Foundation is probably not for my successor, or even my successor’s successor. Instead, its success will be felt by those generations of future Bedians, still to be born, who will be attending the School in the 2030s and 2040s and beyond.

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The Bede’s Development Foundation will help the Trust launch initiatives to address needs that cannot be met from Bede’s core income. Thus, its initial focus will be on raising money for bursaries to support the well-established tradition at Bede’s of assisting capable pupils from less affluent backgrounds who would not otherwise be able to benefit from a Bede’s education.

I do hope the Foundation will have your support in the coming years.

 

And finally, fifthly, I love the people.

Ultimately, a school, like any community, stands or falls on its people. The relationships between the pupils and each other are the warmest and most positive of any school I have worked in. The house system is so very strong at Bede’s, allowing children to find a safe, corporate identity within a large school. I see older pupils mentoring younger pupils, using their experience and wisdom to help ‘lead out’ – educere again – the junior members of their houses.

Under Mr Lewis’s guidance, the community leadership shown by the Prefects, who chair their own sub-committees, has been exceptional. Each year I say that the latest group of school prefects will build on, and be better, than their immediate predecessors. Each year that has been the case. And just when I thought it no longer possible to improve, this year’s school prefect team, supported by the Upper Sixth and Lower Sixth house prefects, have been truly inspirational.

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Under Bertie Cook’s civilised, thoughtful and unswerving leadership, supported by the formidable Nadia Gjerdingen and rousing Joe Robson as his deputy heads of school, Bede’s has felt wonderful. Our school prefects have been stunning this academic year and I leave on a high, having been supported by a vintage harvest of the finest Grand Cru group. What an inspirational bunch they have been. And what a testament to the power of young people to take responsibility and to lead with creativity and moral purpose. To be honest, whatever this group choose to do in life, they will improve the world wherever they are.

And of course there are the staff. Education is a partnership between old and young, wisdom and youthful enthusiasm. Bede’s teachers’ willingness to ‘go the extra mile’, to work tirelessly on your children’s behalf, makes Bede’s what it is. Their dedication and care – genuine care – is both humbling and inspiring.

And so, each year, we say goodbye to those staff who move on to things new:

Mr Alan Hallford leaves Bede’s after eleven years of dedicated service to the Media Studies and English Departments. He has been in charge of Bede’s golf for the last few years and shown me how to play the game. He leaves us to take up a position at Claremont School and we wish him every success.

Dr Steve Dawson has worked at Bede’s for five out of the last six years (he took a break teaching in Africa for a year). He has been an inspirational physics teacher, an excellent deputy housemaster in Deis, and, most recently, a highly conditioned athlete. Dr Dawson leaves us to take up a promotion to be Head of Physics at Ardingly College and he leaves with our very best wishes.

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Miss Clare Dunstall possibly deserves to be first on this list, given her association with Bede’s is the longest. She was a – hugely successful – pupil here and returned two years ago to teach English. Although wonderfully successful as a teacher too, it perhaps became too much for her working in the same department as Mr Tuson, her former English teacher. Thank you Clare and every best wish at the Royal Albert and Alexandra School.

We are also grateful to Mr Atkins, Mr Burden and Mr Beale who have taught with us at Bede’s this past year. We wish each of you every future happiness and you have our sincere thanks for your hard work and contribution to Bede’s this academic year.

As you know, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. It has also been a vintage year for Bede’s drama. Thus, there seems no better way for me to close today than with Harvey Cole performing an extract from one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, King Lear.

Harvey is well on the way to a professional acting career. He has had major roles throughout his time at Bede’s, won awards at the Brighton Fringe, and already taken on professional contracts in film, television, theatre and radio. He is a phenomenal and precocious talent.

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In September, Harvey will take up a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, one of the most prestigious conservatoires in the country. For his Guildhall audition, Harvey prepared a soliloquy from Act 1, Scene 2 of King Lear. Thus, it seems fitting to close with Harvey Cole performing Edmund’s Speech which begins Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

 

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